Miami’s Basketball Team Is Using Dogs To Sniff Fans For COVID-19

One of the many things that we have missed due to the pandemic is attending sporting events in person. Although the sports themselves may take place, the stadiums are eerily empty.

Now that many of those stadiums are starting to reopen for fans again, stopping the spread of COVID-19 is an important consideration.

One of the sports that was shut down in March 2020 was the National Basketball Association (NBA). They did so as a precaution, but now that spectators are starting to come back to the stadiums, they are showing caution once again. They are doing so with some dogs that have been trained to sniff out those who have an active COVID-19 infection.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

When the stadium opened for fans on January 28, the Miami Heat was playing the LA Clippers and the stadium was at 10% capacity. That is only 2000 people allowed in, out of 20,000 seats. Two trained dogs were led to a line of socially distanced fans and the dogs smelled the person’s hands. The Miami Heat is the first NBA team to use those dogs.

According to PHYS ORG, the vice president of the group that manages the dogs, Michael Larkin, said,: “They can spot it (COVID-19) within seconds. Dogs are the most efficient mobile detection system. They are living, breathing animals that have these incredible olfactory senses that are used across the world in a variety of environments.”

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

As the dogs moved down the line, they would sniff each of the hands and if they detected the virus, they would sit down next to the person. When it happened, the team would refund the ticket and that person and anyone with them would not be allowed to enter the stadium.

Australia’s University of Adelaide put some of their top researchers on training dogs that could detect infection with the coronavirus. They worked along with partners from around the world and the dogs were specifically taught to sniff out various volatile organic compounds that would be detectable by people who have an infection.

Photo: Pixabay

The results of the training have been very promising. According to some of the tasks that were run at first, the dogs were able to detect with 100% accuracy when a patient had COVID-19. They could detect it, even before the patient was showing any symptoms.

Now that the Miami Heat is using dogs for sniffing out those who have been infected with the coronavirus, it may be used by other sports teams as well. It has already been used in a number of airports, such as those in Helsinki and Dubai.

Photo: flicker/Can Do Canines

If you’re wondering how the dogs are able to detect the infection, then what Dr. Anne-Lise Chaber of the University of Adelaide’s School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences has to say will be of interest to you. According to MedicalXpress, he said, “(These) dogs are trained in the same way as dogs that detect explosives. According to studies, dogs are not susceptible to SARS-CoV2 and the virus cannot replicate in them. COVID-19 dog detectors will be a reliable, repeatable, cheap, easy, and fast way to screen or pre-screen potential cases.”

It’s just one more indication that dogs are awesome.

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